RWC 2021 Spotlight: France
We continue our countdown to the Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw by taking a look at France’s history in the tournament
Scrum-half superstar Laure Sansus, the 2022 TikTok Women's Six Nations Player of the Championship, wants to win Rugby World Cup 2021 before hanging up her boots next winter.
Rugby World Cup 2021, playing from 8 October to 12 November 2022 in New Zealand, will be an important milestone for one of the key players on this French team because, despite only being 28 years of age, she plans to retire after the global tournament.
Sometimes compared to men’s great, Antoine Dupont, because of her influence on the team, Sansus wants to finish on a high note.
"This is what we fight for every day. A trophy means performing well at the Rugby World Cup and getting a result," said the Women’s Six Nations 2022 top try-scorer, her tally of six taking her overall record to 16 in 28 caps.
"Loulou", who started playing rugby at the age of four and has always been encouraged by her rugby-mad family, has had a dazzling career so far, having played at AC Labastide Beauvoir (Haute Garonne) and Stade Toulousain, as well as Saint Orens Rugby Féminin.
👏 Félicitations Laure pour cette distinction méritée. Une recompense pour toute notre équipe et qui met en lumière une fois de plus la qualité du rugby féminin français. Fière ! #XVdeFrance #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/pD18nrGWah— Annick Hayraud (@AnnickHayraud) May 11, 2022
After a promising international debut in 2016 against Italy, she took a step back from the elite level in the following season for professional reasons before returning in better shape than ever and proving herself as one of the best players in the world.
Indeed, in 2021, she was shortlisted for Women’s 15s Player of the Year in association with Mastercard at the World Rugby Awards (along with her teammate Caroline Boujard), an award that was eventually handed to England's Zoe Aldcroft.
But she was the outstanding candidate to claim the Women’s Six Nations 2022 award, despite England romping to a fourth straight title at Les Bleues’ expense.
Sansus and France team-mate, Madoussou Fall, and two England players, Marlie Packer and Sarah Bern, were nominated. It was as if Le Crunch had moved beyond the boundaries of the pitch. But this time France came out on top, Sansus collecting 37 per cent of the vote.
"It's not the first time that I've been up against English players as an individual," she laughs.
"It's similar to last year's Player of the Year award, albeit with an English player claiming that one. It's good, we're pushing each other individually and also collectively; it's going to be a great Rugby World Cup!"
France and England will meet in a Pool C match at the Northland Events Centre, Whangarei on Saturday, 15 October at 20:00 local time (08:00 BST) for a Le Crunch fixture on the other side of the world which promises to be a great game.
It was in Toulouse that she received her trophy for the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations Player of the Championship award. "It was Gaelle (Hermet, teammate and captain of the French women's XV) who presented me with the trophy. It was a joy to receive it from her," she said.
As soon as she heard the news, the first person to know was her mother. "She thought I deserved it; of course, she is my mother," she smiles.
"My whole family is very proud. They are always behind me, no matter what we do, where we play, whether it's for the club or the French team. My whole family is always behind me. I'm lucky with that."
As well as he try-scoring exploits, Sansus also helped to put team-mates through holes in opposition defences, coming up with the most ‘assists’ in the Championship. Her play did not go unnoticed on social media with highlight clips regularly played out.
"I'm happy for myself and for them because it also puts France in the spotlight and I think that after the Championship we've just been through it's very good," she admits.
However, Sansus is not the type to turn the spotlight on herself. "Even if it's an individual award – and that's not necessarily what you want in a team sport – it's a great source of pride. I think it's a reward for all the effort I've put in to get to this tournament," she concedes.
"But when you’re in my position, the forwards play a massive part in your success. Had they not progressed as the tournament went on, my job would have been much more complicated.
“To be noticed as a scrum-half, I really owe it to the whole team. Thanks to all their hard work, I was able to perform all my duties too.
"I would have liked a Grand Slam even more. But now everyone has to perform well individually if we want to win. After that, if I or another French player gets the trophy, so much the better."
Before thinking about pursuing a career in logistics, Sansus still has a busy schedule ahead of her, including potentially her last six tests in New Zealand which she hopes will end in a Rugby World Cup winner’s medal.